Rules Of Billiards

An Overview Of The Rules Of Billiards

The rules of billiards vary somewhat depending upon which game is being played, but there are a number of underlying rules which hold fairly constant no matter what the game. We'll look at these generic rules first, and then mention a few rules of billiards unique to the game being played.

Starting A Game - The overall objective is that of sinking the balls in the table in pockets. This must be done in a prescribed order in some games, and in no particular order in others. The first player to shoot often is at somewhat of an advantage. The rule for determining who will go first, unless agreed upon by some other means, is the rule of the Lag, or Lag for Break. Here, both players shoot a ball towards the foot cushion. Each ball must make contact with the foot cushion, and the ball which comes to rest closest to the head cushion (where the shooters are) determines who decides who will shoot first.

The first to shoot will break the balls, which are arranged in a triangle with the apex or point ball, pointed towards the foot cushion. If a ball (or more than one) is pocketed at the break shot, the shooter may continue. A shooter may continue to shoot until failing to pocket a ball. When that happens, that shooter's "inning" is over, and the other player takes over.

The Generic Rules - The cue ball may only be hit with the tip of the cue stick, and in most games it is the cue ball that is the only ball that may be hit with the stick, the other balls on the table may not be touched by the stick or by anything else. The cue ball may not be struck while in motion and it may not be shot at another ball that is still in motion. In other words, prior to each shot, all the balls on the billiards table must be completely at rest.

A shooter may shoot from any angle or position, and in fact on occasion will find it necessary to shoot from an awkward position. The rules of billiards simply require that when making a shot, at least one of the shooter's feet must be in contact with the floor.

Breaking one of the rules of billiards constitutes a foul. In most cases, when one is guilty of a foul, that person's inning comes to an end and the opposing player is given the next shot. In some cases, the penalty may be that a pocketed ball does not count, depending upon the nature of the foul.

One of the more common fouls, often committed by inexperienced billiards players, is the "scratch", where the cue ball is inadvertently pocketed. Another foul, also committed by either inexperienced or clumsy players, is to touch a ball with anything other than the tip of cue stick, for example torching a ball with the handle of the cue stick, with a bridge, or with clothing. Also, care must be taken when shooting to make certain that the cue ball, once hit, does not touch the cue tip a second time. If any other ball should make contact the cue tip or cue stick, it is a foul. Finally, the cue ball must be "struck" by the cue tip. It may not be "pushed".

In tournament play, the end of an inning is the usual price to be paid for committing a foul. If a foul is deemed intentional however, the player will be given a warning, and a second foul of that nature can result in forfeiture.

Rules Of Billiards For 8 Ball - The most common billiards game is 8 Ball. In this game, one player is assigned the solid color balls numbered 1 through 7, and the other player is assigned the striped balls, 9 through 15. The object is to pocket all of the balls assigned to you, plus the 8 ball, before your opponent can pocket all of his, plus the 8 ball. Deciding who has stripes and who has solids is not determined until after the break when the first ball has been pocketed, which must be a called shot to count. A player must call each shot, and failure to make a called shot is a foul and the end of an inning. It is usually not necessary to call an obvious shot attempt.

Rules of Billiards For 9 Ball - The second most common billiards game is 9 Ball. Here, the 9 solid balls are in play. They can be pocketed in any order, but the shooter must always make contact with the lowest numbered ball on the table first, or it is a foul. When a player does foul, the opposing player may place the cue ball any place on the table before making his shot. Unlike 8 Ball, players are not required to call their shots.